“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18; all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible).
Happy New Year! Those three words tend to inspire hope. People hope that the previous year’s difficulties will become a thing of the past and that the coming year will be much better. Sadly, this does not always happen. I still remember many of my friends posting memes on Facebook around December 31, 2019, expecting 2020 to be a better year. Around that time, this blog featured an article declaring the coming year to be a “Year of Vision.” Many of those optimistic declarations did not age well.
Each year will bring challenges. The only two things that truly change on January 1 are the last digit in the date and the pictures in the calendar on your wall. Most likely, the problems you had on December 31—whatever financial, professional, relational, spiritual, or medical crises in your life—will still be there on January 1. We may embrace the New Year with hope, but at the same time, we must face the reality that each year will bring sorrow, sickness, or other challenges. Jesus said, “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” He could have said the same about each year.
Perhaps our optimism about a new year is a foretaste of the hope that will come with “a heaven and a new earth” when Christ returns. We hope last year’s sicknesses and sorrows do not follow us into the new year as worse trials emerge alongside them. We can be certain, though, that one day this world will be a thing of the past. No child of God will bring sickness, sorrow, or financial hardship into heaven. No new crises will greet them.
As we look to the New Year, let us also look forward to that new world God is preparing for us. New Year’s Day is a great time to reflect on the past and devote some time to self-inventory and seeking new (or renewed) direction. Many people make New Year’s resolutions at this time. Although most resolutions fall by the wayside before January 18, we should not give up hope. We can make new resolutions, conduct a self-inventory, and seek new direction from God throughout the year: Ash Wednesday, Easter, your birthday, etc. Pick any day and make it an excuse for a new beginning. God is not restricted by the calendar and can change your life anytime. “Behold, now is ‘the acceptable time,’ behold, now is ‘the day of salvation’” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
Take some time today to get alone with the Lord, think back about the last few months, and ask Him questions like these:
- What areas of my life please You the most?
- Have I strayed from Your perfect will for my life? If so, how?
- Is there anything in my life—any hobbies, habits, interests, or relationships—that is hindering me from serving You as I should?
- Are You leading me in a new direction in the coming months?
Honestly test everything by comparing it to the Word of God. Perhaps you may ask a trusted mature Christian—a pastor or someone else you can go to for spiritual advice—what they think about what you believe God is telling you. Again, you do not have to limit this to January 1.
In all things, look at your life in Christ from an eternal perspective. In this world, you will have trials, but Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33). While we may face hardships in 2023, we can place our faith in Jesus, follow Him, and prepare our hearts for eternity with Him.
May this prayer guide your life as you begin a new year and commit your life to follow Jesus through the New Year:
“I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen” [John Wesley; from The Book of Common Prayer (2019), published by the Anglican Church in North America].
Is God speaking to you in a new way as you prepare for the new year? Do you believe He has new beginnings for you in the months and year to come? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Copyright © 2023 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.